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Best Round the World Ticket Explained

Best Round the World Ticket Explained

No matter how much money you have saved or how rich you are, if you can buy the same flight for a lower price, why wouldn’t you? Many nomads want to visit a lot of locations but have no nerve to keep booking flights along the way. This is when Round-The-World tickets become very handy.

What is a RTW Ticket?

The RTW ticket is sort of an airline pass for multiple flights. Ironically, nowadays an RTW ticket doesn’t necessarily fly you around the world. You might be thinking, why would I book this if I can just purchase individual tickets? You can obviously book separate flights to several desired locations individually, but an RTW ticket is the cheapest option.

rtw ticket

Types and Rules of RTW Tickets

There are several types of RTW tickets, depending on the airlines. Different RTW tickets also come with different terms and conditions. Some tickets are valid up to a year, but you can also get a cheaper option for 6 months from departure until your return to the same country.

You can start and finish in different cities as long as they are in the same country. Some tickets allow you to change the dates of the flights you’ve chosen and sometimes even re-route them. However, generally speaking the only two things you can’t change are the departure date and the final flight.

The RTW ticket from Star Alliance, the biggest union of airlines in the world, is based on how many miles you travel. 34,000 miles will get you 4 continents while 39,000 will get you 5 or 6 continents depending where you’re heading. Booking directly with them might get a bit tricky.

Another union, Oneworld, offers two different kinds of passes: one that is mileage based and another that is segment based. The OneWorld Explorer pass is based on the number of continents visited (between three to six) and up to 16 stops can be included in your ticket. However, all of the layovers couns so if your ticket includes a stop at an airport somewhere there will be 2 segments.

How to Book the RTW Ticket?

Booking a RTW ticket couldn’t be easier! You book the ticket the same way you book any other flight, either online or through a travel agency. You buy a ticket from one airline that can be used with them and all of their partners, or you get it organized by a specialized RTW advisor.

The price of the ticket varies depending on the date you fly out of your country for the first time. Generally speaking, in order to get the cheapest flight you should opt to fly out sometime between April and June. The most expensive tickets are those that beginaround thee winter holidays and summer months.

The Last Flight of United Airlines Boeing 747

There are a few major websites for booking RTW flights. Air Treks and Round the World Flights for customers departing from Europe. Some other travel agencies, such as STA Travel, also offer RTW flights, but their prices are higher.

However, to my surprise, a lot of travelers book their RTW with STA due to their personal approach and well established company reputation.rtwflight

How to Plan a RTW Trip

You can play with your itinerary on every website offering RTW flights. However, you need to remember to consider all the options. For example, it’s important to remember that none of the RTW alliances include any budget airlines.

A budget airline is an airline that usually offers fewer amenities in exchange for a lower price, such as Ryanair, Southwest, Air Asia, Transavia, and others.

Sometimes it might be cheaper to book an extra destination with a budget airline or cross some part of the world overland. However, when purchasing a budget airline flight you need to make sure you’ve counted all the extra charges, such as checked luggage and local transport to the airport located further away.

As you’ll be traveling to many countries, it’s useful to consider travel insurance and maybe a phone to stay in touch. Tickets purchased from AirTreks automatically include traveler’s insurance and STA Travel can also sell you one without any trouble.

If you want to purchase your own you should rather get the best insurance available: World Nomads Travel Insurance.

When it comes to phones, the situation gets a bit trickier. In the US, prepaid phones are barely existent and the best option would be getting a Tracfone. In Europe, it doesn’t matter which country you get a prepaid in as roaming doesn’t cost that much.

Food on Air New Zealand flight

Do RTW flights quality for frequent flier miles?

It depends. Some airlines might allow you to get regular travel miles, while some might give you a bit, but others (e.g. Air New Zealand) simply don’t give you any. I

n any case, I wouldn’t consider the lack of frequent flier miles as much of a loss since you’re traveling around the world for a cheap cost anyway.

RTW flights

Is It Worth It?

Again, it depends on your plans, chosen destinations, and expectations. Financially, in most cases a RTW ticket beats organizing many single flights. Especially because many people forget that buying a one-way flight is often more expensive than a round-trip. Don’t ask me why, but it’s usually better to purchase a round-trip ticket even if you’re not going to use the return flight.

5 Alternative Ways to Save Money for Traveling

The downside of the RTW ticket is that you plan your entire trip more or less from the beginning. You can change the schedule as you travel, but if you for example, fall in love with Mexico and want to work there and cancel the rest of your trip, then the rest of your ticket will be wasted.

A lot of travelers I have met along the way who bought RTW tickets ended up changing around their dates, but I’ve never heard about any problems with it. Just make sure your trip is the one you want.

My Experience Taking a RTW Flight

I can’t say one bad thing about my experience with a RTW ticket from the moment I took the decision to book it until I landed back in the UK. I was researching a lot of options and nothing could beat the price of a RTW flight.

I wanted to fly to New Zealand, some islands in the Pacific, and visit some places in Asia on the way. I ended up choosing the RTW option from Air New Zealand and flew out in April 2012.

My route:

London – Hong Kong – Auckland – Rarotonga (Cook Islands) – Los Angeles – London

£1002 including everything. I could have added any other flights within Asia for £60 per destination and stopped over in Australia. I think the price was amazing, considering  it was a really good airline and included a stepover in the Pacific. This is because Pacific stops usually increase the price of the ticket. For example: a friend of mine traveling with me had to book a separate flight to the Cook Islands that cost him £340!

I ended up not staying in Los Angeles in the end due to an emergency back home. I had absolutely no problem changing my itinerary and I didn’t spend an extra penny!

Maxine Chivers

Sunday 7th of January 2018

When I was 20 years old I travelled around the world on Qantas and Virgin Atlantic. My amazing trip began in February of that year and I had arranged a working holiday visa for Australia. My route included two free flights in Australia. It was London to Los Angeles to Honolulu to Fiji to Sydney to Adelaide overland to Cairns to Darwin to Singapore. I was able to work in childcare and charity collecting. From Singapore I went down to Sumatra in Indonesia and then into Malaysia.

At 29 years old I wished to visit New Zealand because I had missed out on that. I got an excellent deal on Air New Zealand via Los Angeles and some pacific islands. On the way there these were French Polynesia and the Cook Islands. On my way home I went to Samoa. Wow. What a special country.

Now I am 45 years old, my son is 10 and my daughter is 8. Our next trip is London to Istanbul to Mumbai overland Chennai to Colombo to Kuala Lumpur to Cebu to Singapore and back to London. We are going on some budget airlines like Air Asia and Norwegian to keep flights low. Getting the visas for India were hard.


Tuesday 6th of December 2016

Hi Anna great article about RTW tickets, I was wondering about this kind of tickets but I never found any information about it. If I want to travel through Europe, would it be better to get this RTW tickets or rent a car and drive to the cities we want? What we want is something like this: PARIS*** – ESTRASBURGO* – HEIDELBERG – ROTHENBURGO* – NUREMBERG* – PRAGA** – BRNO – BRATISLAVA – BUDAPEST** – VIENA** – SALZBURGO* – INNSBRUCK – MUNICH** (The stars mean the number of nights we're planning staying there) a group of 4 persons...


Tuesday 6th of December 2016

RTW ticket would mean, as I mentioned in the post, round the world ticket. You just want to cover Europe. In that case I'd suggest you an Interrail pass (if you're non-EU) or Eurail (if you're an EU citizen).


Tuesday 16th of February 2016

Wow! This information has the wheels turning!! I'd love to put this into play! Thanks for the great tips!

Asia Jade

Saturday 23rd of January 2016

Thank you for this post Anna, you were extremely helpful. I am currently planning my excursion and I was wondering if you had any tips, or recommended places, for a first time solo-female traveler. I am 26 and currently trying to get out an explore my Earth, where would be a good place to start this RTW trip for someone to get acclimated to traveling.

Thank you again for your insight!

Best xoxo


Saturday 23rd of January 2016

I honestly think that any place can be good for the first time traveler :) Getting out of your comfort zone is a must!

Visit the Cook Islands - Anna Everywhere

Sunday 9th of August 2015

[…] seem half as popular as Fiji. When I was given the choice between Fiji and the Cook Islands on my RTW flight, I decided to go for the second option. As my friend and I only had a week and I wasn’t […]

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